Letters Being Transgender Not ‘A Lifestyle Choice, Fad’

Nov. 4, 2019 Editor, The News-Gazette:

I frequently disagree with the opinions expressed in Hugh Bouchelle’s monthly column, though I have never before felt compelled to respond. But I found the content of his most recent commentary so misleading, misinformed, and misguided that I cannot let it go unchallenged.

It was not Mr. Bouchelle’s one-sided and incomplete treatment of a recent court case involving a transgender youth that upset me so much as his broad assertions about gender and sexuality. In particular, I take issue with three messages which emerged from his piece.

One, Mr. Bouchelle conflates sexuality and gender. Sexuality is not “artificially created” through social interactions, as he contends; rather, sex is chiefly a function of one’s inherent biology. Gender, on the other hand, does have a social dimension but also biological underpinnings as well, and it does not always align with one’s sex.

Two, the column perpetuates antiquated stereotypes about “normal” behavior for boys and girls, a limited way of thinking that necessarily invalidates those whose interests and tendencies lie outside of narrowly defined boundaries imposed by culture.

Three, and most disturbing, Mr. Bouchelle clearly attributes being transgender (“transgenderism” is not actually a word) to mental illness. Gender dysphoria is not a consequence of mental illness, but it can be a contributing factor for mental illness. Gender nonconforming individuals may experience stigmatization, social isolation, and bullying, all of which may be risk factors for anxiety, depression, and suicidality.

Being transgender is neither a lifestyle choice nor a destructive fad; what is destructive is the continued marginalization of those whose gender expression doesn’t fit what some members of society think it should be.

PHILIP COULLING

Lexington

The News-Gazette

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Lexington, VA 24450
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